FIRST LOOK | MARK RYDEN’S “THE GAY NINETIES WEST” AT MICHAEL KOHN GALLERY, LA
Years in the making, alternative art godhead Mark Ryden‘s final cycle of his “Gay Nineties” painting cycle, The Gay Nineties West finally debuted in Hollywood last weekend with an appropriately star-studded private reception. Inagurating the beautiful new Kohn Gallery space, the show gathers the entire existing “Gay Nineties” series—which debuted with an earlier installment of paintings at NYC’s Paul Kasmin Gallery in 2010—to be displayed alongside the new nine new paintings that comprise this LA exhibition. As an incredible bonus, especially for newer fans of his work, the show also includes two of his most epic paintings from earlier showings, The Tree Show’s “Tree of Life,” from 2006, and Wondertoonel‘s monumental masterpiece (in both scale and subject matter), “The Creatrix” from 2005, which haven’t been seen publicly in years. An extensive display of drawings—both stand-alone original works in color and detailed pencil studies for paintings—nicely round out the display and exemplify the artist’s masterful draftsmanship. The real star of the show, however (aside from #1 Ryden fan Leo DiCaprio, that is), was the incredible new sculptural piece “Memory Lane,” an enormous automaton diorama constructed within a gorgeous hand-carved antique pushcart. Upon insertion of a penny, an animated cast of Ryden’s characters—all meticulously sculpted from new and vintage doll parts—dance about their daily activities in a small town set hand-painted by Ryden to the old time-y tune “Daisy: Bicycle Built For Two.” The effect is like seeing one of the artist’s paintings spring to life, with an anatomical man slicing meat in a butcher shop, a pair of twin Lincolns riding a bicycle built for two, Colonel Sanders & Jesus serving as tag-team prophets, and Barbie passed out in a scandalous state of undress on a tavern floor. As a show of over-the-top flair, and to bring the entire spectacle into the modern age, Ryden also released an album at the show consisting of 19 different cover versions of “Daisy: Bicycle Built For Two,” by a diverse roster of musician friends including Everlast, Kirk Hammett, Katy Perry, Nick Cave, Tyler The Creator, and Weird Al Yankovic.
“Awakening The Moon”
MEMORY LANE INSTALLATION:
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